18 January 2023

Two Plymouth Routes Saved

Two of the local bus routes that were withdrawn due to low customer usage and extreme pressures on Plymouth City Council’s finances will be partially reintroduced at the end of the month.

Last November, the Council had to make the difficult decision to withdraw subsidies for five of the 14 ‘non-commercial’ bus routes in Plymouth.

This was one of a number of proposals to address the unprecedented £37.6m shortfall in the Council’s revenue budget for next year and followed a procurement exercise where all tenders came back over-budget.

Retaining all 14 routes could have cost up to £1m a year and, given the severe financial pressures, it was simply not affordable.

Since this time, the Council has been working with Devon County Council and local bus operators to look at whether there are any options to reintroduce services.

At today’s Cabinet meeting (17 January), Councillor Jonathan Drean announced that officers had been successful in finding a solution that will extend the number 59 bus to Merafield and onto the city centre via Marsh Mills (to partially replace the original 19 service) and the launch of a new commercial service from Holly Park and Ringmore Way to the city centre (which will partially replace the 44A service).

Both of the services come at no cost to the Council.

Councillor Drean said: “We face huge financial challenges. The tender returns would have resulted in nearly £1m to be found to retain all the existing routes. It is simply not affordable and many of the routes require high subsidies due to the low overall patronage.

“I know that this was disappointing and behind the scenes Council officers and myself have been working really hard to see if there was any way that some of the routes, albeit partially, could be reintroduced.

“I would like to express my thanks to Devon County Council and Plymouth Citybus for working with us on finding a solution. But I need to emphasise to people who live on those routes that bus services can only operate if they are commercially viable. Therefore, if you don’t use them, you will unfortunately lose them.”

The 59 service is a route that Plymouth Citybus currently operates under contract to Devon County Council.  The new extension will begin on Monday 30 January and partially replaces the previous route 19.

It will operate four journeys a day in each direction, reinstating links for Merafield residents to both the Ridgeway and the city centre, as well as expanding travel to Sparkwell, Shaugh Prior and Bickleigh. The timetable also has a peak time journey to and from the city centre, which will hopefully help generate commuter numbers on this route.

In addition, following detailed discussions with Citybus, a new service 13 from Holly Park and Ringmore Way, providing links to West Park, St Budeaux and the city centre, will also begin from the end of the month. This route partially replaces the 44A between Holly Park and St Budeaux.

The new service will comprise four journeys a day in each direction, Monday to Friday. The service will be more limited than what was provided before and will be run on a commercial basis. Plymouth Citybus will be reviewing its use after six months to ensure that it is financially viable.

It looks like the 13 is extended from the existing 13 while the 59 will no longer serve Derriford Hospital according to the service registration which has been published. More details will follow when available



Library Copy

Further to my posting on the 11th Peter Heath helpfully points out a typo:

Graham, further to your yesterdays post, there is a fourth solo lettered for PCB 1806 NL63XZW.  I think the other 2 are NL63XZX and NL63XZV which would make 11 but they were well hidden in the multitude of buses in the compound so can't be 100%sure.  Also is there a typo should YX14SFY be 323?

Thanks Peter!

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